From the author of The High and the Mighty and Fate Is the Hunter, a sequel to his Biblical historical novel, The Antagontsts, which was filmed as the TV mini-series ""Masada."" In 73 A.D., or the fourth year of Vespasian, General Flavius Silva is serving as Commander of the Roman 10th Legion occupying Judea and engaged in destroying the last of the Jewish resistance. With the Jewish main force entrenched on the summit of Masada, Flavius Silva leads an attack against a surprisingly silent enemy. Pouring onto Masada's top, the Romans find that the Jews have committed mass suicide, every man, woman and child. This has a sobering effect on Flavius Silva, as does the strange behavior of one of his finest soldiers, Piso, who has become Christianized. To top off his troubles, Flavius Silva's childhood sweetheart, the gloriously beautiful Domittilia, daugther of Emperor Vespasian and unhappy wife to one of the richest senators in Rome, arrives in Judea with a message from her father--and promptly falls in love once more with Silva. Nor can Silva--battle-scarred, limping and half-blind at 36--resist her passionate advances. Their lovemaking on the beach is witnessed by Julius Scribonius, a homosexual spy, who hopes to use this knowledge to curry favor in Rome. Silva thinks he has strangled Scribonius to death but the slimy spy recovers and makes it back to Rome. Domittilia, also returning, asks her father for a divorce from Marcus Clemens, her porcine husband, but ailing Vespasius cannot risk giving Clemens any reason to abandon support for the Emperor. Meanwhile, Domittilia's brothers Titus and Domitian are seeking out each other's weaknesses. Elder Titus is about to inherit the throne, which hotheaded young drunk Domitian wants for himself and is amassing enough power to make his claim for it when the time comes. And the time does come, as Vespasian dies and Titus arranges the funeral triumph in honor of his father and in honor of his own assumption of power, with games in all four arenas, including the new Coliseum. Like Verdi's grand march in Aida, this grand climax is carried off with considerable skill and great detail, while the lovers part--if only for a year of face-saving for the masses. Few will deny Gann's pulsating storytelling and the roundedness of his stock characters, who often mature enough to go through a convincing change in their natures. The dialogue gallops nicely with a semi-rhetorical swing that's almost natural. A third volume looms, surely, to tie up the loose ends.